|Administrative / biographical background:
This is an ancient family said to have come from Holbeach, co. Lincoln to North Warwickshire, where it was definitely settled in 1483, probably already at the White House, Fillongley.
The stages by which the property in South Warwickshire, North Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire was acquired are as follows:-
(1) MOLLINGTON (1st half 17th cent.)
Ambrose Holbech, a member of a junior branch of Holbeche of Fillongley, bought the manor of Mollington (now co. Oxon) in the first half of the 17th century. This appears to be the first property acquired by the family in South Warwickshire.
No deeds relating to this estate are amongst the present collection but L1/196 bears the signature of this Ambrose as a witness.
(2) FENNY COMPTON (1655)
In 1655 the manor of Fenny Compton is said to have been conveyed to Ambrose Holbech, son of the last mentioned Ambrose, and to Nathaniel Ekins by George Wyllis. However, in 1765 or 1769 a moiety of the same manor was conveyed to his grandson William Holbech by George and Samuel Wyllis of New England (see V.C.H. Warwickshire, V, 1949, p.48: V.C.H. Northamptonshire Families, 1906, p.341).
The present collection includes 84 deeds, relating to Fenny Compton, c. 1202-1610, but they finish 45 years before it was conveyed to Ambrose Holbech.
(3) RADSTONE, co. Northants (1678)
In September, 1678, the manor, impropriate rectory and advowson of Radstone were sold by the trustees of the will of Sir Thomas Cave, Knt, and Bart., to Ambrose Holbech of Mollington under a Private Act of Parliament of 1678 (see The History and Antiquities of the Co. of Northampton, by George Baker, Vol. II, Pt.I, 1822, pp. 672-673).
The present collection includes 25 deeds relating to Radstone between 1504 and 1639, thus leaving a gap of nearly 40 years before the purchase by Ambrose Holbech.
(4) FARNBOROUGH (1683).
Between 19 Sept. and 31 Oct. 1683 Ambrose Holbech of Mollington purchased the manor of Farnborough from Thomas Woodhull of Mollington and William Taylor of Williamscote, trustees of the estate of George Ralegh, recently deceased (see L1/157 and L1/158). The Raleghs had held the manor since 1322 (see V.C.H. Warwickshire, V, 1949, p.85).
The present collection includes 7 deeds and other documents relating to the manor, of which one is dated 1476, whilst the rest are concerned with the debts of the Ralegh family in the 17th century and the sale to Ambrose Holbech in 1683.
The remaining deeds are connected with various small properties acquired by the Holbech family at various times, including the Hill Ground (acquired in 1683; 34 deeds, c.1663 - c.1689); the Highway Ground or Shoulder of Mutton (probably acquired in 1871; 18 deeds, 1738-1871) and a cottage with Weaver's shop and orchard (10 deeds, 1759-1793), which probably belonged to the Holbech family although there is no definite proof. There are also 6 other later deeds, 1687-1709 and 1847.
There is a series of 19 deeds (late 13th cent. - 1528) relating to NAPTON, where the Willis family held an estate previously to their purchase of the manor of Fenny Compton, for on 10 March 1508/9 an interest in this estate, then known as Brown's Manor, was passed by Christopher Cranowe to Richard and Thomas Wyllis and others. The Willis family had already parted with this estate 17 years before they sold the manor of Fenny Compton to Ambrose Holbech, (see V.C.H. Warwickshire, VI, 1951, p.184; V.C.H. Northamptonshire Families, 1906, p. 341; L1/104).
There is also a series of 8 deeds relating to BYFIELD (co. Northants, but near the Warwickshire border). John Willes of Byfield is a witness to one deed in 1342 (L1/49).
In addition there are 15 MISCELLANEOUS deeds. Of these 9 relate to Warwickshire parishes: Harbury, Ladbroke, Priors Marston (4), Southam (2) and Wellesbourne. There are 3 concerning Northamptonshire, of which one relates to Welton and two to the parishes of Blakesley, Potterspury, Yardley and Paulerspury. Also, 2 relating to the Oxfordshire parishes of Alkerton and Shennington. The remaining deed concerns the Worcestershire parish and hamlet of Church Lench and Sheriff's Lench. Two generations of the Willis family which purchased the manor of Fenny Compton lived at Priors Marston (V.C.H. Northamptonshire Families, 1906, p.341). In the Wellesbourne deed (L1/121) and the Blakesley, etc., deeds (L1/113 and L1/114) some of the parties are of the Willis family and the Alkerton deed recites members of the Willis family.
THERE IS ALSO A DEED relating to the estate of Amillian Holbeche of Coleshill dated 10 June 1758 (L1/171). Amillian was a member of a different branch of the family, originally of Fillongley Hall, and this deed appears to have been included in the present collection by accident.